Google’s self-driving car project has rebranded itself as Waymo, working as an independent entity within the technology giant, as the project gets closer to a public launch.
The name Waymo stands for “a new way forward in mobility” and the new firm said its aim is to “make it safe and easy for people and things to move around” in driverless cars.
At a news conference, Waymo’s chief executive John Krafcik said: “We can see our technology being useful in personal vehicles, ridesharing, logistics or solving last-mile problems for public transport.”
Google’s high-profile programme began seven years ago in a secretive lab – and since then its driverless cars have covered more than 2.3 million robot-controlled miles, usually with an engineer on hand in case something went wrong.
Under Google’s parent company Alphabet, which oversees “moonshot” projects detached from its core business of online search and advertising, Waymo’s creation could help monetise years of research.
Unlike other automakers, Waymo’s goal is to create an autonomous vehicle which requires absolutely no human intervention.
“We believe that this technology can begin to reshape some of the 10 trillion miles that motor vehicles travel around the world every year – with safer, more efficient and more accessible forms of transport,” Krafcik added.
Waymo would reveal when the technology will be production-ready “soon”, he said.
Until now, the program has been part of secretive research unit Google X.
Fiat Chrysler Google’s first partner, teamed up with the tech company in May to work together to integrate Google’s self-driving system into 100 of the carmaker’s minivans.